Weddings are, more often than not, extravagant affairs, and rightly so! It’s your special day and you want to create lifelong memories, not only for you and your partner, but for the family and friends sharing your happiness.
Celebrations like this are a once in a lifetime event. A memorable wedding combines elegance and style with opulent decor, lush floral arrangements and top notch food.
There’s also something very special about an intimate, low-key affair. A small gathering in a beautiful location can be the very epitome of romance.
What are the environmental impacts of your wedding day?
Regardless of how you choose to spend your big day, there is one aspect of wedding planning currently garnering attention and that is the environmental impact of your nuptials.
- Food waste
- Carbon footprint accumulated by visiting guests, the transporting of food and other items
- The single use and non-compostable/recyclable items that mount up
Now, it’s not my job to make you feel guilty so let’s talk about how, through making small changes, you can treat our planet with kindness and have the wedding of your dreams.
Start with your Wedding Suppliers
Many suppliers are right up to speed with sustainability and can boast bags of ethical credentials. So your first port of call should be your trusty internet browser and a spot of research. Shortlist suppliers who can offer both excellent service and environmental ethics.
Treating the planet with care doesn’t mean compromising on quality and flavour. Imagine how chuffed you’ll be commissioning a caterer that can whip up a feast with zero food waste!
If you’re bringing in an outside caterer, ask them how they source their food and discuss with them how they dispose of any food waste. Ideally, your chosen caterer will use only the best seasonal organic ingredients from local producers. The smaller the carbon footprint, the better!
Can they commit to supplying only reusable cutlery? And arrange for any food waste to be composted post-event? How about reducing the amount of meat on your menu? It’s a big ask but there are lots of delicious vegan dishes that are sure to appeal to all palates. And you don’t have to go all-out vegan; offer a meat-free starter, for example, or a veggie-heavy evening buffet.
Food waste is a massive problem with weddings, using a caterer who can carefully manage portions and perhaps don’t over-fill the plates and instead offer some evening food later – put it this way I very rarely see canapes go to waste but as the day goes on there is more and more food leftover! Perhaps use your cake as the dessert or have a cheese cake instead which can become your evening buffet? Get creative.
Ask that your drinks bar is stocked with only glass bottles and avoid single use plastic as much as possible.
Wedding Decor and more
Luckily for you (and our environment), there are lots of excellent wedding hire companies that can provide you with gorgeous items to make your wedding truly wonderful. They curate hundreds of stunning objects, some of which are sure to fit your chosen theme and they prevent an enormous amount of waste. A number of hire companies also offer a wedding dressing service, which is another task you can tick off your list.
Can you limit your wedding stationery to the essentials ? Do you really need to provide wedding favours? Can you ensure that what can be recycled will be? You’ll be glad to read that biodegradable confetti exists! I also love multi-purpose items, for example have you seen wedding favours which are also donations to charities or invitations made from seed paper so they can be planted afterwards?
Flowers are the traditional cornerstone of wedding decor, yet cut flowers aren’t the only way to brighten up a venue. Succulents and other potted plants and herbs can offer a quirky alternative to less eco-friendly flowers. Consider hiring in trees from a local nursery for big impact. However, if you are committed to beautiful blooms (and who can blame you?) ask if your florist can source locally-grown flowers, limit the air miles and being seasonal has a more positive impact on the environment.
Did you know that floral foam, known as oasis, is incredibly damaging to the environment? Any florist worth their salt will offer you a foam-free alternative.
Avoid unnecessary waste by donating your arrangements to a local church, hospital or hospice after your big day.
If you’re having balloons make sure you use biodegradable ones, specialist balloon artists will use these to limit the impact on the environment.
There’s no denying that the dress is pivotal but it’s probably the only item in your wardrobe you’ll wear just once. You can’t really get any more disposable than that!
Let’s talk about how you can wear the gown of your dreams without damaging the planet. It can be done.
- Buy vintage/preloved – there are so many gorgeous, pristine gowns waiting to be loved again. Check out charity bridal shops or shop online for second hand dresses. Then when you’re done, recycle it for the next lucky bride.
- Choose ethical – for a bespoke dress reach out to responsible wedding designers who source ethical fabrics and ensure fair conditions for garment workers.
- Have your dress redesigned into a dress you would wear again. I have seen some great examples of shorter, coloured dresses made from wedding dresses.
- Let’s not forget the groom! Renting a suit is the most practical way to prevent waste, otherwise explore sustainable fabrics like responsibly sourced cotton and other recycled materials.
It doesn’t just extend to your dress though, think about vintage accessories, shoes you can recolour/repurpose and wear again. Perhaps ask your bridesmaids to pick dresses they would also wear again.
The Gift List
The majority of couples these days aren’t setting up home for the first time which means you can be creative when it comes to gifting. Rather than request items you don’t need, why not ask for donations to your favourite environmental charity? Or, provide a packet of seeds and ask your guests to plant a tree to memorialise your nuptials!
The great thing about sustainable weddings is that you only have to make a few small changes to make a big difference.